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Rockingham shows why support series’ should stand alone

By admin | April 15, 2012

By Richard Allen


If you watched Sunday’s Camping World Truck Series race from the Rockingham Speedway on Sunday you may have noticed a couple of things that are not always a part of NASCAR’s support series races. Those two things were energy and enthusiasm.

It has long been the opinion of this writer that when NASCAR essentially transformed its Nationwide(formerly Busch) Series and the truck series into weekend filler races for Sprint Cup weekends they took away the soul of those two entities. The Rockingham truck race showed what these two divisions could be like on a weekly basis if they were separated from their big brother series.

The race track, the community, the fans and even the competitors in Rockingham viewed the event as an opportunity to shine rather than a way to plug a time slot while waiting for a Sprint Cup race to take place. The race was viewed as that track’s premier event. It was their headliner, not their back story.

It was exciting over the preceding days and weeks to watch as Rockingham Speedway president Andy Hillenberg and his staff went all out to make this race a success. And they succeeded in doing just that as the grandstands were filled and everyone was excited.

Wouldn’t it be great for the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series to receive that same kind of attention every week rather than having them made into the second class citizens of NASCAR?

I know the reaction of many who read this will be that Rockingham and other venues are not as up to date and lavish as the more modern facilities that have been introduced in recent years. To those who would say that consider that if you drive by a restaurant that has only thirty parking spaces and all thirty are filled, don’t you think that must be a good place to eat because the parking lot is always full? Conversely, if you drive by a restaurant that has 100 parking spaces and forty of them are filled, don’t you wonder why no one ever eats at that place?

Using the same restaurant analogy, surely everyone reading this piece must have a favorite restaurant that isn’t in the most lavish building but it is still a good place to eat.

The point is, too much attention has been given to things that don’t really matter. Is it that important to have luxury boxes to bring potential sponsors into so they can sit and look down on scores of empty seats?

The Iowa Speedway, the Indianapolis Raceway Park, the Nashville Fairgrounds and Rockingham Speedway are perfect places to host NASCAR’s two support series’. Those communities want the events and would or do strive to make them a showcase of their facility. Energy and enthusiasm are more important than luxury boxes and palatial stadiums in some cases and this is one of them.

Click on the link to listen to my Audio Podcast-> Was the Texas race boring?

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8 Responses to “Rockingham shows why support series’ should stand alone”

  1. Charles Says:
    April 16th, 2012 at 6:44 am

    Glad to see Rockingham have a good turn out!

    As far a modern amenities etc..Rockingham is only 15 miles from Pinehurst area….a golf tradition..who has US Open at times at the famed Pinehurst no 2 course!

    Infact a couple of years ago they had a LPGA event that had a total over the 4 days a count of close to 1/2 million people..never heard the Golf fans complain about lacking of amenities…it is a great area…

    Thus the Rockingham area has plenty of the things you need to have a Nascar race!

    Hope they will get a Sprint Cup race back…if they had this good of draw for a truck race..then a Sprint race would probably bring a sellout…something they havent had in a while!

    Kudos to Andy Hillenburg and staff..

  2. Russ Says:
    April 16th, 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Remember that virtually all of the tracks that the Sprint Cup races on are owned by either ISC/Nascar of SMC.

    Having the other two series racing on those tracks is a win for those holding companies. Any revenue is a bonus, with little expense. And it doesnt have to be shared with anybody.

    So there is little incentive to move the support series to tracks not owned by those companies.

  3. Team24 Says:
    April 16th, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    Loved your use of the restaurant analogy! It’s why Dale Jr. watches “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” then plans his race-weekend eating accordingly. It’s what’s INSIDE that counts! I’d rather go somewhere with lots of history & exciting racing than a state-of-the-art facility that bores me. I can sleep at home :)

  4. mr clause Says:
    April 16th, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Whats funny Rich, is that for many years the LMS, then the Busch series, standing alone had plenty of fans. Then France and Bruton got into gluttony and greed and by a series of dumb moves made only for the dollar, they made a great series into something on life support. They made the stars of that series into second class citizens to favor the big money stars. They only saw the dollar signs.

    You are absolutely correct, either the trucks or NNW can stand alone and rebuild their fan following. Put them back on the mile or less tracks and we’ll see real racing again.

    For clarity, I’m from the old school Tommy Ellis, Jack Ingram, years. The Southside , Langley, Southern Pines, Hickory, South Boston, racing. Then you could pick your favorite driver/team and with a little luck follow them to cup. Then it wasn’t millions of dollars, most of the time it was guys working jobs and working on the cars at night and racing on the weekends, good racing. There were back yard geniuses that moved to cup, not million dollar engineers and seven post rigs. It should be that way today! Then someone like Trevor Bayne would not be sitting on the sidelines waiting for a million dollar sponsor. He’d be somewhere on a Friday or Saturday night short tracking and happy and the sport would be better for it.

    Make each series a stand alone series it’s the way it was meant to be.

  5. loose nut Says:
    April 16th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    How many tickets were sold for future events by anyone that watched the race from Texas ? My guess would be not many. The best racing happens at tracks that challenge drivers like Darlington,Martinsville,Talladega,and Daytona. Nascar, the answer to shrinking attendance is simple,races take too much time and money to attend and watch to be bored.Better head back to your roots while you can.

  6. Tony Geinzer Says:
    April 16th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    I would challenge the fan base why not build on more Short Ovals or Rock Shows, and not Rock Shows aren’t at Rockingham.

  7. John Cooke Says:
    April 17th, 2012 at 11:07 am

    The one thing that tickled me at the race Sunday was the number of kids there with their parents and grandparents. The kids coming up in the stands with their picture cards signed by the drivers, the looks on their faces were priceless. Affordable tickets made this possible. Now if Nascar can get a clue, and realize you make new fans this way instead of reaching out to various ethnic groups. I became a racing fan because my Dad took me to the races and it was there that I fell in love with it!

  8. The Mad Man Says:
    April 17th, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    The Truck series race at Rockingham was the most exciting race of NASCAR’s 3 series this past weekend. The track really challenged the drivers to use their skills to get around it. The same tire-grinding asphalt that plagued drivers back in the 60’s plagued the current Truck Series drivers. It presented them and their crews with a real challenge. Add to it the unique design of the track itself. That’s one of the things that brought fans to the track in the old days. No two tracks were alike. Each had their own character and distinct characteristics. Maybe if NASCAR put The Rock back on the schedule, they might get some of the fans they chased away back in the grandstands for at least one race weekend.